Tag: Western New England

Noontime’s New England D3 Football Conference Predictions

The early expectation is that Trinity College will begin the 2022 season as the de-facto favorite to win the NESCAC. (PHOTO COURTESY: Trinity College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

We’re less than 30 days from the start of a brand-new New England NCAA Division III Football season.

Are you excited?

I am, which is why I am ready to share my early predictions for which team will win their respective conference this fall.

Like most of our early season content, these picks are educated guesses. It’s possible these picks will be right while some could be wrong.

Anywho, allow me to share my early predictions for all five New England D-III football conferences.

Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): From top to bottom, this might be the most competitive conference in the region.

As of early August – and yes, a few weeks back – I was pretty sure Endicott College would be the favorite to win its second-straight title this fall. But from doing some additional research, I will change my mind and go with another team: Salve Regina University.

To me, the Seahawks might be the best team on paper in this conference heading into the upcoming season. They will return some key members of last year’s offense that averaged 199.2 rushing yards per game.

But while Salve Regina might be the squad receiving some early-season praise for its key returners, do not overlook Endicott, along with Husson University, Western New England, and the University of New England. All four squads, along with Curry College and Nichols College will provide the Seahawks with plenty of challenges this season.  

Noontime’s CCC Champion Prediction: Salve Regina University

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: University of New England

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): A new chapter of Anna Maria College football will begin this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

Croce, who was on the staff last year, will be tasked with continuing the squad’s momentum, which saw the AMCATs win their first-ever conference crown, as well as appear in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Like Salve Regina, Anna Maria will return some key members of last year’s squad on both offense and defense, including quarterback Alex Cohen, who concluded the 2021 season with 23 touchdown passes.

While Anna Maria appears to be the team to beat in the ECFC, don’t overlook Alfred State College, a squad that appeared in its first-ever postseason contest last November. Additionally, the Pioneers set a new program record for wins with six victories. For the Blue and Yellow to continue its success this fall, they will need to do it without quarterback Aaron Jenkins, who will be competing for Adrian College this season.

One team to keep an eye on this fall is Keystone College, a squad that concluded its inaugural season winless but could pose problems for both its non-conference and conference foes.

Noontime’s ECFC Champion Prediction: Anna Maria College

Noontime’s Surprise ECFC Team of 2022: Keystone College

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State has been the team to beat over the last decade or so and should be the squad with a target on its back heading into training camp this month.

But don’t rule out the Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth, which concluded the 2021 season with a league-best nine wins (that’s nine wins in 11 contests).

UMass Dartmouth earned some much-needed momentum heading into the postseason by capturing its first-ever New England Bowl Game last November – the Corsairs rolled past Alfred State, 42-16, thanks to a six-touchdown effort (four passing and two rushing scores) by Dante Aviles-Santos.

Aviles-Santos returns this fall hoping to lead the Corsairs to their first-ever conference crown. UMass Dartmouth has never won a MASCAC title and appears to be the team to beat on paper.

While UMass Dartmouth might be equipped to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the conference, don’t overlook Bridgewater State, which finished its 2021 campaign with six wins and a Cranberry Bowl victory over Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Plymouth State, which ended its previous season with a 5-5 overall record, will also be in the mix for the conference crown.

Noontime’s MASCAC Champion Prediction: Framingham State  

Noontime’s Surprise MASCAC Team of 2022: Plymouth State  

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): The Bantams of Trinity College won eight games last season. They also lost one contest to Williams College, which captured the NESCAC crown with a perfect 9-0 record.

The loss to the Ephs should fuel a conference championship run for the Bantams this fall – Trinity, like other New England squads, will welcome back some key members of its 2021 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Linebacker Brian Casagrande, who led the Bantams’ defense with 46.0 total tackles, is also expected to return.

While Trinity will be the squad to watch in the NESCAC heading into their initial contest, the same could be said for others such as Amherst College, Colby College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University.

Williams College could also pose threats to Trinity’s title run with the Ephs representing the region on last month’s D3Football Preseason Poll. Williams is one of many teams receiving votes.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College  

Noontime’s Surprise CCC Team of 2022: Tufts University  

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): After starting their season with one win and three losses, Springfield College responded with a six-game winning streak that helped the Pride capture its second NEWMAC crown, as well as advance to the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The early expectation is that Springfield will be the de-facto favorite to win the NEWMAC this fall, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine, which finished its 2021 season with a 9-1 overall record.

The Mariners won their final two contests against Coast Guard Academy and Western New England – the win over the Golden Bears provided Merchant Marine with its second New England Bowl victory since beating Endicott in 2018. Additionally, the team’s final win was an ideal sendoff for longtime head coach Mike Toop, who guided the Silver and Blue to 70 wins in 17 seasons.

Toop announced he would be retiring last November.

Merchant Marine should be able to compete for the top spot with Springfield – sure, both teams will need to fill some graduation holes, but the same could be said for every team in college football.

A few other teams to watch in the NEWMAC include Catholic University, MIT, and WPI.

Noontime’s NEWMAC Champion Prediction: Springfield College  

Noontime’s Surprise NEWMAC Team of 2022: WPI

Noontime’s Way Too Early New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll

Elijah Nichols and the Framingham State Rams will once again be a team to watch in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin Photography).

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to start thinking about football — well, more the upcoming NCAA Division III season, to be exact.

It’s time to share our ‘Way Too Early‘ New England D-III Top 20 Poll, which may look similar to our final Top 20 from last season. But the expectation is the poll will change ahead of the opening week of the season — be on the lookout for some preseason and camp coverage later this summer.

Enjoy our early-season — well, way-too-early-season poll and feel free to let us know your thoughts by sending us a message on Instagram (@NoontimeNation) and or tweet on Twitter (@NoontimeSports).

Noontime’s Way Too Early New England NCAA D-III Football Poll

  1. Endicott College (8-3, 5-1 CCC): The Gulls captured their first conference crown last fall since 2013 and will certainly be ready to defend it this season.

  2. Framingham State (8-3, 8-0 MASCAC): Coach Tom Kelley and the Rams will once again be a team to watch — maybe the team to beat? — in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall.

  3. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Corsairs capped their 2021 season with a New England Bowl victory. Expect their win over Alfred State to provide the squad with some additional momentum this season.

  4. Husson University (7-3, 4-2 CCC): Quarterback Nic Visser is just one of many student-athletes to watch this fall on the Eagles.

  5. Trinity College (8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): Look for a big year from halfback Will Kirby.

  6. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): The Cardinals are going to surprise many New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football fans.

  7. Salve Regina University (8-2, 4-2 CCC): Last season, the Seahawks won eight games for the first time since 2016.

  8. Springfield College (7-4, 6-0 NEWMAC): The Pride should be the favorite to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) this fall.

  9. Western New England (7-4, 5-1 CCC): Members of the 2019 and 2021 squad have graduated, which means it’s time for some new Golden Bears to step up.

  10. Bridgewater State (6-4, 6-2 MASCAC): This could be a big year for halfback Adam Couch.

  11. Plymouth State (5-5, 5-3 MASCAC): Like the Cardinals of Wesleyan, the Panthers are going to surprise fans of the MASCAC.

  12. Anna Maria College (7-3, 5-1 ECFC): A new chapter of AMCATs football begins this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

  13. University of New England (4-5, 2-4 CCC): This Nor’easters squad proved they’re going to get better every season.

  14. Tufts University (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Don’t sleep on the Jumbos this year.

  15. Amherst College (5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): A five-point setback to Williams at the end of last year will be the motivation for the Purple and White this fall.

  16. Williams College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): After producing its first-ever nine-win season in program history, these Ephs have some graduation holes to fill.

  17. MIT (5-4, 3-3 NEWMAC): One has to think “Bubna Magic” will return after a 5-4 season last fall.

  18. Western Conn. (5-5, 4-4 MASCAC): After posting just five wins for the first time since 2016, one should expect coach Joe Loth‘s squad to bounce back and be in the mix for a conference crown.

  19. Colby College (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Expect the Mules to capture the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown again this fall.

  20. WPI (3-7, 2-4 NEWMAC): After a down year, expect the Engineers to bounce back with possibly one or two new signal-callers.

On the Rise: Coast Guard Academy, Curry College, Dean College, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Five Teams That Could Win The CCC This Fall

Quarterback Mike Ingraffia will be a player to watch on offense this fall at Endicott College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway)

By Matt Noonan

Last fall, Endicott College captured its first conference crown in eight seasons by winning the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league with an 8-2 record.

The Gulls, which advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, saw their run toward a national title conclude with a 20-14 setback to RPI.

Despite ending their season with a six-point setback to the Engineers, Endicott should once again be in the mix for the conference crown. But the same could be said for a few other teams in the CCC, which will be ready to challenge the Gulls for some hardware.

Here are five teams that I believe can win the Commonwealth Coast Football league this year.

Endicott: I believe the Gulls can win their second-straight title, but their path to their fourth conference crown in program history won’t be easy.

For the Gulls to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need a similar effort this fall from quarterback Mike Ingraffia, who capped his sophomore season with career-highs in passing yards (1,531) and touchdowns (15).

Ingraffia is just one of many student-athletes to watch on the Gulls this fall, specifically its offense, but the same could be said for classmate and wide Shane Aylward, who ended the 2021 season as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Aylward ranked fifth in the conference in receiving yards (712) while finishing tied for sixth with five touchdown receptions.

Colin Meropoulos was named the CCC Defensive Rookie of the Year and will be tasked with leading a defense that limited its opponents to 19.5 points per game.

Husson University: One should never count out coach Nat Clark’s Eagles, which concluded its 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record.

For the Eagles to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need some key members of last year’s squad to step up this year, including wide receiver Jon Bell, who concluded the 2021 season with career-bests in receptions (49), receiving yards (753), and touchdowns (four). Bell will most likely be targeted a few more times this fall by quarterback Nic Visser, who led the conference in passing yards (2,598).

Linebacker Tucker Buzzell will be the player to watch on defense after leading Husson with 85 total tackles last fall.  

Salve Regina University: For the first time since 2016, the Seahawks ended its season with eight wins, thanks to an impressive opening month that saw Salve Regina win four straight non-conference contests, including an epic come-from-behind win over Rowan University.

The team’s early-season momentum came to an end in early October with a 41-3 setback to Western New England.

Salve Regina would bounce back by winning four of their final five contests.

The biggest question facing this year’s squad is who will return this fall? Salve Regina’s roster featured eight graduate students last fall, along with 21 seniors, including halfback Joey Mauriello, but one player that will return this year – and is someone to watch – is linebacker Zachary Ludemann. The Howell, New Jersey native placed 11th in the conference in total tackles (69.0).

Western New England: For the second-straight season, the Golden Bears won five of six conference contests. But their lone setback to Endicott resulted in Western New England missing the national postseason for the first time in two years.

Will the loss to the Gulls be this year’s motivation for the Yellow and Blue?

Endicott and Western New England are scheduled to compete at the end of the season, so perhaps the final game could determine the conference’s winner.

The Golden Bears featured three different quarterbacks last fall, including Bryce Karstetter and Conrad Swanson, who will likely compete for the starting job this summer. But in addition to the team’s quarterback battle, keep an eye on the wide receivers and tight ends. Steven Fedorchak and Adam Razza have graduated, which means we could see Greg Perry and Ryan Larson become the squad’s top two receivers.  

No matter the make-up of this year’s Golden Bears, the expectation is coach Jason Lebeau’s squad will be ready to contend for its fourth CCC title.

University of New England: For the second-straight season, the Nor’easters won four games, including a pair of league tilts.

Can they double that win total this fall?

Perhaps they can, but for UNE to do that, they will need to play some of its best football early on.

UNE ended its 2021 season with a wild victory over Curry College, which highlighted a few players to watch this fall.

One of those players to watch in 2022 is quarterback Jarrett Henault, a Goffstown, New Hampshire native that threw for a career and season-high five touchdowns in his team’s win over the Colonels. Henault appeared in eight contests last season and will be tasked with leading an offense that will feature Mikey Brennan, Jakob Rivers, and Shane LaPorte this fall.

While the offense has a chance to improve from one year ago, the same could be said for the Nor’easter defense, which will be led by David Hutchison, a defensive lineman from St Johnsbury, Vermont.

UNE might be a longshot to win the CCC, but they certainly proved last season that they can contend with some of the best teams in the conference.

Five New England D3 Football Teams to Watch In 2022

Alex Cohen and the Anna Maria College football team will be a squad to watch in 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to kick off our preseason football coverage – are you ready for some football?

Yes, we know the Boston Celtics are occupying our attention while writing this post, but while we anxiously wait for the fourth game of the NBA Finals to tip off tomorrow evening, let’s highlight five teams New England NCAA Division III football fans should watch this fall.  

Anna Maria College: Quarterback Alex Cohen is back, along with some key members of last year’s squad, which captured its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title.

Cohen will certainly be a player to watch this fall after concluding the 2021 season with career-highs in passing yards (3,087) and touchdown passes (23).

Wide receiver Hayden Braga returns for another season, as well, along with Alvin Martin (linebacker) and Armstrong Antoine (defensive back) – all three student-athletes, along with Cohen, should help the AMCATs contend for their second-straight conference crown.

Anna Maria is scheduled to face some challenging conference foes in September, beginning with their season-opener against UMass Dartmouth.

Colby College: Coach Jack Cosgrove has the Mules heading in the right direction.

Last year, Colby won four games for the first time since finishing 4-4 in 2013. The Mules scored some important early and mid-season wins over Amherst College and Middlebury College while providing some challenges for Hamilton College and Tufts University.

Halfback Keon Smart will be a player to watch on offense – the sophomore tailback finished his initial season with the Mules last fall with 248 rushing yards on 69 carries and three touchdowns.

Colby will commence its 2022 season at home against Williams College.   

Curry College: A new era of Colonels football has begun with the hiring of first-year coach Todd Parsons.

Parsons, who oversaw the Endicott College offense last fall, inherits a squad that finished 3-6 last season, including 1-5 in Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC).

Michael Sims will be a player to watch on the Colonels after concluding his initial season with the Purple and White with 49 total tackles, including 26 solo stops to go with one fumble recovery, one interception, and one pass break-up.

Sims played high school football in Connecticut and was a two-way player for Griswold High School. He played fullback on offense and linebacker on defense. Maybe we could see him play fullback this fall?

Curry will begin its 2022 season at home against MIT.

Dean College: Like Curry, Dean will have a new leader of its football program with Andrae Murphy returning to his alma mater to coach a Bulldogs squad that won just two games last fall.

Errol Breaux, the team’s leading wide receiver, was a player to watch last fall as he led the receiving core in catches (75), receiving yards (1,215), and touchdowns (eight). Quintus Reid was also a player to watch on offense as the New Haven, Connecticut native concluded his junior season with 52 receptions and six touchdowns.

It’s likely Murphy’s signal-caller will be David Curry, who was spotted under center every game last fall. He completed 196 of 351 passes for 2,585 yards and 18 touchdowns. Curry also led the rushing attack with 627 yards and six touchdowns.

Dean will travel to Fitchburg State for its season-opener.

University of New England: For the second time in program history, the Nor’easters concluded its campaign with four wins (they won a program-record four wins in 2019 after capping their inaugural campaign one year earlier with just two victories).

Last fall, UNE gained our attention by scoring an impressive early-season win against Bridgewater State, which saw the Blue and White outscore the hosts, 14-0, in the second half to set up a game-winning field goal by Ruelas Villasen in overtime.

In addition to their come-from-behind win against the Bears of Bridgewater, they also provided some challenges for Endicott and Western New England down the stretch. They capped their 2021 campaign with a wild victory over Curry.

The team’s late-season win over the Colonels, which was highlighted by five passing touchdowns by Jarrett Henault should provide the Nor’easters with some momentum heading into four this season in program history.

UNE will begin its season on the road at Coast Guard Academy.

Noontime’s Five D3 Men’s Lacrosse Teams to Watch in April

Cross Ferrara and the Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team have won 11-straight contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brad Boardman)

By Matt Noonan

We’re a few days into the final month of the regular season for NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse, which seems hard to fathom. But luckily, there is still plenty of lacrosse to be played – don’t worry, the season is not over yet!

However, I believe there are a few teams – may be more than a few? – that we should certainly keep our eyes on down the stretch and possibly next month once the postseason begins.

Yet, before we look too far down the road, allow me to share the five teams I’ll be watching this month.


Salisbury University: I believe the Sea Gulls are the best team in Division III. But that’s my opinion.  

Salisbury secured 23 first-place votes for this week’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) D-III Top 20 Poll after capping the second month with three big wins over Colorado College, Whittier College, and Stevenson University.

Their most recent matchup with Stevenson was a challenging one, which saw the Mustangs outscore the Sea Gulls, 5-3 in the third quarter (Salisbury led 9-4 at the break).  

The Sea Gulls will certainly be challenged over the next few weeks with upcoming matchups against a pair of ranked teams, including Christopher Newport, which secured the second position on this week’s USILA Top 20 Poll after checking in fourth one week ago. Neither team has dropped a game this spring, so their matchup next Saturday, April 16 could feature a pair of unbeaten squads.

Christopher Newport: The Captains looked impressive in their last outing, beating Williams College by a score of 15-2.

The non-conference meeting with the Ephs was highlighted by a career-high 18 saves by Zac Hanway. Andrew Cook tallied six goals, which is the most any member of the team has recorded against a nationally-ranked opponent.

Christopher Newport will compete later today against Southern Virginia University before turning its attention to Salisbury, along with the University of Mary Washington and Colorado College.

The Captains have scored five wins this season against nationally-ranked foes and will certainly look to continue their momentum over the next few weeks.

Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears head into this evening’s meeting with Bates College riding a nine-game winning streak.

Bowdoin has won five New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) matchups, along with a pair of regional victories over Babson College and Western New England.

I believe the Polar Bears are the best team in the NESCAC, however, I am interested to see how they do against Tufts University later this month. But given the way they have played these last few weeks; I find it hard to see this team losing its current momentum down the stretch.

Keep an eye on Will Byrne, a sophomore from Darrien, Connecticut, that tied the school’s single-game program record with 11 points (five points and six assists) last month against Western New England.

RPI: The Engineers have certainly bounced back following a 12-9 setback to Williams last month with a pair of wins, including a 13-12 victory last weekend against RIT.

Cooper Urban concluded his team’s meeting with the Tigers with three goals and three assists while Joseph Perry recorded 23 saves.  

The win over RIT provided RPI with the top spot in the Liberty League (LL) with a 3-0 record (the Engineers currently boast a 9-1 overall record).

RPI has certainly been on my radar this spring by commencing its current campaign with seven-straight wins. They will certainly face some challenges down the stretch, beginning next Saturday with a big matchup with Union College.

Union College: The Dutchmen have scored some impressive wins thus far, including recent victories over Middlebury College, St. Lawrence University, and Tufts.

Their next three matchups will certainly tell us more about a team that I believe can compete for both a conference crown and national championship.

Union will visit St. John Fisher College this afternoon (face-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.) and RIT this Saturday, April 9.

Keep your eyes on goalie Dan Donahue, who was recently named the Liberty League’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this spring.